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Authors: Glen Tate

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BOOK: 299 Days IX: The Restoration
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“Tell HQ,” he said to Jim Q., “that we have full electricity and water at all the buildings at the brewery. We can accommodate a field hospital, prisoner processing, and even civilians here.” Grant was so proud. The 17th, just a hillbilly irregular unit, was able to call in that piece of great news.

“Roger that, 17th,” a voice said in English over the radio. That was the first time Grant had heard English.

Another voice came on in English. “Please be advised that Quadras are no longer needed for routine traffic. We have too much radio traffic. Using Quadras for everything is slowing things down. Sensitive tactical communications should still go through Quadras, but routine traffic, such as the coordination of relief can be conducted in English.”

Jim Q. smiled. His job was done. He had accomplished what he wanted to: Olympia was in the hands of the Patriots and there was no longer a need for him to be using his language on the radio. That meant victory. His family would be honored for this. They would be proud of this for generations. Jim Q. took a deep breath and soaked in the feeling. Honor for generations. That, and avenging his cousin’s imprisonment, was why they did this.

About an hour later, the first wounded started to arrive, followed by a medical unit and then more wounded and medical units. They were feverishly setting up a field hospital in one of the brewery buildings and Don and his guys were helping them. Random members of the 17th split themselves off into work details to help. It was amazing to watch. They were just helping their buddies like they’d done for months at Marion Farm.

“Get the kids out of here and somewhere else,” Grant said. They needed the space for the wounded. Someone ran down the stairs to the second and third floors. Pretty soon, the kids were gone.

Anne Sherryton went with them. She would protect them. Actually, being with them was more for her recovery than their safety. She knew she wouldn’t do an awful thing like she’d done a few hours ago if those kids were around. Besides, she promised the kids that she’d read them bedtime stories. And she was going to keep that promise. That was what normal, good people do.

The next few hours were a blur. Grant hadn’t had any real sleep in … he actually had no idea. There was so much to do. He needed to make sure the 17th personnel got all the incoming soldiers and civilians to where they needed to be, and ensure HQ knew what they were doing at the brewery. He needed to make sure the area was still secure and that the civilians could be controlled so they didn’t swarm the place. He also needed to make sure there were no Limas hiding among the civilians and trying to detonate a suicide bomb.

“Put up signs for the hospital, prisoner processing, and kitchen,” Grant remembered telling someone who ran off and, presumably, followed his instructions. Franny asked Grant if the brewery had any refrigerators or freezers. “Try the Baskin Robbins up the street,” Grant suggested.

The radio was full of urgent messages. Everyone in the Patriots’ Olympia forces seemed to have something to say to the civil affairs hub or ask the hub for. And, though Grant was technically in charge, most of the time he had no idea what he was doing. He was just doing. Occasionally he would hear himself talking and was amazed at how authoritative and knowledgeable he sounded.

After a while, Grant’s voice was getting hoarse. He had to stop and … just not talk. He was getting woozy again so he tried to eat an MRE, but he couldn’t. He tried to lie down and get a quick nap. He couldn’t. He had to continue doing all the stuff he was doing.

Keep going. This is no time to stop.

He jumped back up, full of energy and ran at full speed until dark.

He saw some of the Bravo Company squad leaders coming up to the fourth floor, which had become the command post.

“Any casualties?” Grant asked the squad leaders.

They nodded. “Two,” a sergeant answered.

“Who?” Grant asked. He was praying it wasn’t any of his.

“A couple of ours, Lieutenant,” the sergeant said. “Your guys are all fine.”

Grant tried not to act happy. Two Bravo Company men were casualties and that wasn’t good news.

“How bad?” Grant asked.

“One KIA,” the sergeant said, meaning killed in action, “and one with some shrapnel to the legs. He’ll be okay.”

“My condolences,” Grant said to the sergeant who nodded slightly at Grant.

That reminded Grant that they needed a place to put bodies. He had a runner find Don to see if any place in the brewery had a functioning refrigeration system. Nope. Don and the commander of the medical unit came up with a temporary solution and Grant didn’t want to know what it was.

Pastor Pete and a couple other chaplains had set up a makeshift chapel in one of the brewery’s office buildings. They were counseling soldiers one on one. Lots of grieving over lost comrades. Lots of people who had never seen or done what they had just seen or done, like killing people. Or watching people kill and be killed. Or seeing horrific injuries. There were lots of Anne Sherrytons. Nice people doing horrible things and trying to figure out what just happened.

Grant saw the Team coming up to the fourth floor. They looked tired.

“Welcome back,” Grant said. “How’d it go?”

“Shitty,” Pow said. “We didn’t see any action.”

The Team went on to tell Grant about how they slowly made their way down the main street to the capitol only to hear of the surrender right before they got into position. There were Limas running away from the capitol and straight toward their general position.

“Bravo Company got a bunch of them who wouldn’t drop their weapons,” Wes said. “We were holding an intersection and the bad guys went the other way.” Wes was a little disappointed.

Capt. Edwards came up and said to the Team, “Get something to eat and maybe a nap. We’re going back out in an hour. Night patrol.” The Team nodded slowly. They wanted to go back out and kill some bad guys, but … they were so tired.

Grant pulled Edwards aside. “Can I ask a favor?” he asked Edwards after a bright idea jumped into his mind. “I need to motivate some of my guys.”

“What do you have in mind?” Edwards asked.

“Could my Team do a motorized patrol with you guys?” Grant asked.

“Sure,” Edwards said. “As long as you supply the motor.” He looked at Grant, “Why a motorized patrol?”

“Kind of an inside joke,” Grant said. “But it’ll motivate them.”

“Okay,” Edwards said. He didn’t care about some joke. If Grant wanted his guys to ride, and if he provided the ride, whatever.

Grant went to find the Team as they were just finishing their pancakes. He got an eerie feeling as he watched Wes eat his pancakes. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he sensed something bad.

They got their gear and slowly went outside to Mark’s truck. Grant handed the keys to Bobby. “Get in.”

The Team got into the truck, wondering what was up. Once they were in, Grant said, “This never gets old.”

“Beats the shit out of selling insurance,” Pow said with a smile. It was a tired smile, but a smile nonetheless.

They all laughed. Then teared up. It was exactly what they needed to hear. They needed to be reminded that they were part of a team, something special. They had come a long way. They’d been doing this for months now—years, counting all the pre-Collapse training they had done together. They could do this. They were tired and cold and heading out into pockets of fierce Lima resistance, about to face urban combat which was the most dangerous kind. But they could do it. Because this was what they were made to do, and who they were made to do it with.

This never gets old, Grant thought to himself as he watched them drive away.

 

Chapter 301

The Blur II

(January 2)

 

 

Grant wanted to join the Team and Bravo Company, but he had work to do.

The brewery was now the field headquarters of the Olympia operation. Grant was totally overwhelmed. He thought he was organized and good at things like this, but he was in over his head. Way over.

The wounded kept flowing in. It was hard to tell if they were friendlies or enemy, but it didn’t matter. They all got treated. Grant had never understood that. Why waste precious medical supplies on the people who had been trying to kill you just a little while ago? But doctors and nurses took an oath to treat the wounded. It was also part of the Geneva Convention. As if the Limas followed that. But the Patriots did, to the best of their ability. Luckily for Grant, the medical units took over those operations. All he was doing for them was giving them a building with electricity and water and providing security for the area. Well, several other units were augmenting the 17th on security. At this point, things were very blurry for Grant. He didn’t know what he and the 17th were doing exactly; he just knew that stuff was getting done somehow.

At some point in the middle of the night, prisoners started trickling in. Some came from the field hospital after being treated. Others walked in under their own power to surrender. Most came with their hands already zip tied by Patriot units. But some just walked up to the brewery with their hands up. They were mostly young National Guard kids who were glad this whole stupid thing was over. They’d been told the Patriots would torture and kill them, but everything else their Lima officers had told them was a lie so, they figured this must be, too.

The amount of prisoners was becoming a problem. The brewery building they were using was quickly filling up. And it wasn’t too secure. They needed to figure out where to set up a makeshift detention facility.

“The high school is about a mile that way,” Grant explained to a major who said he was the head of the MPs, or military police. Grant was pointed up the street toward the Baskin Robbins. “Lots of lockable rooms and a big kitchen. High schools are kind of like prisons anyway,” Grant said with a laugh.

“Good idea, Lieutenant,” the major said. He started yelling to get a team together to go check out the high school. He found a local civilian who would show them where the high school was.

There were lots of civilians pouring in to the brewery—the word got out that this was the place where the Patriots were—to offer help. There were two kinds of civilians at the brewery. The first were hungry civilians, or those with untreated medical needs. They had no political ideals; they viewed the Patriots as just another provider of food or medical treatment. They didn’t care. There were way too many hungry kids. They got first priority in the kitchen, right after soldiers going back out to fight.

The second category of civilians streaming in to the brewery was the closet Patriots and gray men and women who wanted to offer their help. People like Ron Spencer.

Earlier, a neighbor of Ron’s, an Undecided, had come running to Ron’s house to tell him the Patriots had taken the capitol campus and had set up a headquarters at the brewery. Ron wanted to race to the brewery and offer his help but, after thinking about it, decided to stay in his neighborhood. Ron had his shotgun and was ready. He was going to protect his family. The three members of the “Carlos Cabal,” as they called the neighborhood Lima leaders, could try to come after Ron and his family. Protecting his family was his first priority. Killing Limas was a distant second. Besides, Ron had done his duty by tagging the three Carlos Cabal houses with that big black “L” on the front door, which would help the Patriots when they finally got to the Cedars.

The fourth floor observation point was becoming a communications center. Radio after radio was carried up those stairs and being set up.

The fourth floor com center was a family reunion of Quadras. They were reunited after being in separate units for months and not seeing each other. They hugged and did a short dance that looked like a Greek wedding dance. They talked a thousand miles an hour in their language, laughed, and threw up their arms in joy. Then they went back to work relaying the very sensitive communications with huge smiles on their faces.

No one was working on political affairs, Grant realized. Everyone at the brewery was a military person working on military issues, like a field hospital, communications, field kitchen, and holding prisoners. Grant realized this was a critical time for politics.

Grant was very respectful of others’ rank and position, but he needed to assert himself on the political affairs. If someone wanted to tell him to stand down, he’d be happy to let them handle it while he took a nap. He was getting delirious at this point, but the outside thought had told him to press on so that was what he was going to do.

Grant found the major who was in charge of intelligence. “Major,” Grant said as he re-introduced himself, “I’m in charge of civil affairs.” That was kind of true. No one had told him he wasn’t in charge of civil affairs.

“Great,” the major said, assuming Grant had actual training and experience at civil affairs. “Go do it. What’s your plan?”

That was a great question. “We’ll start off,” Grant said authoritatively, “with some political messages. We’ll brief the troops on what to tell people they encounter. That message will basically be that we’re here to help, not carry out revenge killings.”

Grant held up two fingers and said, “There are two messages, one to enemy military and one to the civilians. To the enemy military, the message is that we accept Lima—or, pardon me “legitimate authority”—surrenders and will treat them well. Feed them, that kind of thing.”

BOOK: 299 Days IX: The Restoration
3.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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